Borsai, Ilona (1925-1982)
After graduating from the University of Kolozsvar, in her native city of Cluj, Rumania, qualified to teach Greek and French languages, Ilona Borsai attended the Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary, where she received the Diploma of Music Education. Completing further studies in the field of musicology under Bence Szalolcsi, she began to work in research in folk music under the direction of Zoltán Kodály at the Academy of Science. Having retired in 1978, she died in Budapest on July 8, 1982.
Her research led into musicological studies of Egyptian music, pharaonic, folk, and Coptic. During three visits to Egypt, she made many recordings of folk and Coptic music in 1967-1968 to collect recordings for transcriptions and analyses, in 1969 to attend the Second Conference of Arab Music where she presented a paper, and in 1970 to follow up on the studies and recordings of Coptic music. As a result of these visits she produced a number of transcriptions in collaboration with Margit Tóth and publications describing the results of her research (see bibliography).
She was member of the Coptic Archeological Society, the Hungarian Ethnolographical Society, the Association of Hungarian Musicians, the Hungarian Society of Studies of Antiquities, the International Association of Hungarian Studies, the Hungarian Kodály Society, and the International Association of Coptic Studies.
Her pioneering research into the details of the historical, analytical, and liturgical significance of Coptic music opened the field of Coptic musicology and defined its direction. Her contribution has had an impact not only on Coptic studies but also on all research concerning music whose historical roots have been transmitted through the centuries by oral tradition.